Due to concern about a perceived growing nuclear threat from our “adversaries” Russia and China, Congress inserted in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act a mandate to establish a “Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.” Made up of six Democratic and six Republican “experts,” the Commission would be tasked with analyzing whether the nuclear posture established by President Biden’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, which doubled down on nuclear modernization efforts, was enough to counter these threats.

Despite being from different political parties, the commission reached a unified conclusion in its report to push the United States head on into a renewed nuclear arms race, stating “that America’s defense strategy and strategic posture must change in order to properly defend its vital interests and improve strategic stability with China and Russia. Decisions need to be made now in order for the nation to be prepared to address the threats from these two nuclear-armed adversaries arising during the 2027-2035 timeframe. Moreover, these threats are such that the United States and its Allies and partners must be ready to deter and defeat both adversaries simultaneously.”

The report is nearly devoid of specifics about the nuclear developments these adversaries are planning or already possess that our current nuclear posture, or the greatly modernized stockpile as already planned, can not deter or match. In fact, many policy experts agree that a U.S. nuclear buildup or plans for buildup is not necessary to deter nuclear attack by adversaries and will accelerate an action-reaction cycle that makes us less secure (i.e. an unconstrained arms race). As Secretary of Defense Austin noted in remarks on Dec. 9, 2022, at StratCom Headquarters: “nuclear deterrence isn’t just a numbers game. In fact, that sort of thinking can spur a dangerous arms race.”

The current U.S. arsenal is more than sufficient in size, diversity, lethality to deter nuclear attack on the U.S. or allies. As National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated in his address on June 2, 2023: “I want to be clear here—the United States does not need to increase our nuclear forces to outnumber the combined total of our competitors in order to successfully deter them.”

The House Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing to discuss the report with the Commission itself tomorrow, Wednesday November 15, 2023 at 10 am EST.  There should be some hard questions asked of the Commission to support its conclusions. We will also discuss the report at Tri-Valley CAREs monthly meeting via Zoom this Thursday, November 16 at 7:30 pm PST.

View the full report here: The Final Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States

Click here to watch the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the report